Before we get going, I’d like to state that I am by no means condoning long hours spent working. This is a blog to share how I cope when working on a job that requires long hours on a short term basis (less than a week).
SACRIFICING YOUR HEALTH FOR WORK
I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s seriously dangerous to risk your physical (and mental health on that matter) for the sake of work, but yet we all do it, and some more than others? Why? Well, if you told your clients that you refused to put in the hours required to get the job across the line, you’d never be hired again and nobody would touch you with a bargepole. I actually don’t mind putting in long hours in the short term, but I’d be seriously worried about my health if I were doing this for months at a time with no breaks in between jobs.
MINIMISING RISKS TO YOUR HEALTH
I’m not entirely sure what everyone else does, but I have several things that I do that help me get through 16+ hour days.
DRINK WATER (AND LOTS OF IT)
Granted, you’ll be using the loo every half hour but your brain will be recharged and will stop you from falling asleep. I’ve done plenty of 18 hour days since starting this job and I don’t drink coffee. It’s a total myth that you need the caffeine to stay awake, and I’d recommend getting into the habit of drinking a pint of water first thing in the morning and subsequently throughout the day. Ideally, it’s best to drink at least 5 pints a day. I can always tell if I’ve been forgetting to drink because I hit a slump out of nowhere. Staying hydrated is critical.
I have a very high fibre and protein diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and chick peas/all manner of beans (not baked beans). This helps unbelievably well. Try and make yourself a fruit salad before the job commences and you’ll have a supply of fruit lasting for a while. I can’t even tell you how much of an impact good food has on your life. You’ll feel better, look better and perform better. Your clients will thank you, and so will your body.
DON’T DO DRUGS
To be specific, I’m talking about cocaine. I don’t use it (or any other drug) but I have no particular objection to them or anyone who wants to use it. One thing I will say is that it won’t help you perform like the above two will, and it’ll keep your money in your bank account instead of wasting it on something that actually ruins your health long term.
i actually find this impossible sometimes (namely on the job I’ve been working on recently). I had no time at all during the day, and the last thing you want to do after an 18 hour day is get on your bike or go swimming. I’m not sure what the way around this is, but if you get a few days off here and there, I’d recommend doing intense exercise and getting your heart rate up. We’re all at a higher risk of various diseases and strokes etc by being sat down for so long during the day. Your back will thank you if you engage in something like front crawl swimming through stretching out and the seamless gliding through the water will reduce stress. If you can’t fit any exercise at all in months, you’re taking on way too much work and I guess you may have to come to terms with the fact that your health is being damaged. Not an ideal situation, but it depends how much you value your health I guess…
Sometimes it isn’t possible, but hear me out here. Sometimes, if you feel yourself flagging a bit (let’s say at around the 15 hour mark), and you think you might start to make mistakes, I would call it a day, get some rest and wake up fresh in the morning where your brain has processed any problems that you may have faced that day. We’re human, we need sleep. For some reason, there’s a bragging ‘trophy’ attitude to those who have stayed up for something crazy like 3 days without sleep. In my view, it’s totally ridiculous and you have no idea how much damage you’re doing to your body if you’re doing that. Not to mention the fact that you’re actually being less productive by doing it, even though you think that longer hours = getting more done. It’s just science really. At the end of the day, your body needs rest to recharge itself and I guarantee that if you stop working when you feel like you can’t go on much longer, when you wake up, you’ll be ready to do it all over again! Avoid anything past 18 hours at the absolute max is my advice. As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule, but use common sense.
I enjoy chatting about topics like this, and we all need to stick together and help each other out to make sure we don’t greet a grave at an early age. If you have any tips on how to stay focussed and energised, please share them!